New YorkNews

Bronx District Attorney’s office probing Councilman

A Bronx lawmaker with a long history of alleged ethical lapses is under investigation by the Bronx district attorney’s office for allegedly misusing campaign funds for his personal benefit.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s office over the past few months has issued subpoenas seeking various records from Bronx Councilman Mark Gjonaj’s campaign fund and companies and other entities he’s closely affiliated with as part of wide-ranging look at the lawmaker, sources said.

This includes whether Gjonaj “commingled” money between his campaign fund and a nonprofit group serving Albanian-Americans that he’s been closely affiliated with for years.

The nonprofit, known as Albanian-American Community Association, listed Gjonaj as its “primary contact” in a 2015 tax exemption request to the IRS, and has listed 970 Morris Park Avenue as its headquarters the same location as several Gjonaj family realty businesses. The office phone numbers are also shared.

In 2018, Gjonaj steered $130,000 in legislative pork to the nonprofit but then pulled it after questions were raised about his prior affiliations with the group.

One City Hall source said he’s “not surprised” the Bronx DA is taking a good look at Gjonaj, adding the Council’s Committee on Standards & Ethics last February had to turn over its investigation of Gjonaj to the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board because allegations against him were “voluminous.”

COIB is still reviewing whether Gjonaj broke any laws in 2018 by paying $22,800 in taxpayer funds for renovation work in his district done by businesses whose principals were among Gjonaj’s top campaign donors.

That included $9,700 in no-bid work to All Pro Design & Construction Corp., which shares the same Morris Park Avenue business address as a realty company Gjonaj listed as owning on his annual financial disclosure forms.

All Pro officials donated $2,000 to Gjonaj’s 2017 campaign.

Gjonaj spokesman Reginald Johnson said the lawmaker believes he’s done nothing wrong and will be “fully cooperative” in the probe, including turning over any records he’s asked for.

He said that “while no subpoenas have been addressed personally to the councilman,” documents have been requested from Gjonaj’s 2021 re-election campaign and “entities” that are “inactive” or “which he never had or no longer has an interest in.”

Some of the targeted companies and entities are owned by Gjonaj’s relatives, a source said.

“While he does not know the subject of the inquiry, he is fully cooperating with the request and feels confident that any actions taken on his behalf are completely appropriate and proper,” said Johnson.

Reps for the Bronx DA’s office declined to comment.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *